“A vista through iron lace, New Orleans.” Arnold Genthe, photographer. Photographic negative made between 1920 and 1926
Four years ago tonight New Orleans and coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama had just a few hours left before Hurricane Katrina made landfall for the second time, having already killed six people and spawned tornadoes doing $1-2 billion property damage in South Florida.
My next few posts will give you a glimpse of some of the thousands of public domain images of New Orleans in the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs online, many dating pre-1923. Several of these are from its collection of works by photographer Arnold Genthe (1869-1942). Credits are listed at the end of the post.
St. Louis Cemetery: Because New Orleans is below sea level, people aren’t buried in the ground but rather in above ground tombs or wall vaults. The cemeteries resemble cities of the dead with single family dwellings (tombs) and high rise apartment blocks (wall vaults). The wall vaults are sometimes called ovens. You may remember one of New Orleans’ cemeteries as a setting in Easy Rider.
St. Louis Cathedral: New Orleans is a cathedral town. In this 1903 image from the Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection, the St. Louis Cathedral is seen fronted by Jackson Square. A balcony’s iron railings provided Genthe a frame through which to shoot the cathedral, and in the next photo, he shows the cathedral from Chartres Street. Note the wrought iron balconies.
Credits: All photographs are from the Library of Congress’s Arnold Genthe Collection, with the exception on that of Jackson Square [LC det 4a10800r ], which is from its Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection.
Image identifier numbers [bracketed note added]:
LC-G391-1059 [wall vaults]
det 4a10800r [Jackson Square]
LC G391-T-0965 [framed]